Gene Chague: Fish hatcheries make good neighbors



National fish hatcheries in the northeast region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service help raise fish for large-scale aquatic restoration. They also help raise awareness of fish through local fishing derbies and events.

For example, Mickey Novak, hatchery manager for the Richard Cronin National Salmon Station, hosts several fishing events for veterans at his facility in Sunderland. A Vietnam veteran, Novak and a team of volunteers, many of them veterans, help those who have served our country spend an enjoyable day angling.

"It's vets helping vets," says Novak.

Berkshire National Fish Hatchery, located in Hartsville, annually co-hosts six fishing events for kids from April through September with the Berkshire Hatchery Foundation friends group. The Foundation also has a longstanding summertime program, where any child 14 and under accompanied by an adult can check in at the office, receive a pass and fish the hatchery's stocked lower pond.

Berkshire also provided fish for 21 public fishing events throughout Western Mass. and Connecticut in 2013, including a fishing day at the USFWS Northeast Regional Office in Hadley.

"Over 7,000 brook trout and rainbow trout were provided for public fishing events so far in 2013," said Hatchery Manager Henry Bouchard. "In addition, 2,500 surplus brook trout were donated to Massachusetts public fishing waters last fall. These fish were released into the Green, Williams and Konkapot Rivers and Lakes Garfield and Buel."

Next Saturday, the Berkshire Hatchery Foundation will hold a fishing derby in conjunction with Monterey Days. The derby, which is for kids under the age of 15, will be held from 9-10:30 a.m. Parents are asked to call ahead to ensure that there is room for their young anglers.

Finally, on Sunday, August 25, the Foundation will hold its 11th annual Lobsterfest celebration. The four-course Maine lobster dinner, which includes one free drink, costs $65 per person and can be purchased from Foundation President George Emmons at (413) 528-5985. There will be raffle prizes.

According to Emmons, keyboard music and lyrics provided by Mark Caldwell will "orchestrate a mountainside melody in tempo with the flow of the 300 gallons a minute gravity fed water supply through the covered pools nearby. The hatchery fish may appear to be dancing in the afternoon current of renewal by the swing and sway of their tails."


Deer hunters, have you checked to see if you won an antlerless permit yet? Beginning August 1 and continuing through the end of the calendar year, antlerless deer permit applicants must return to the MassFishHunt website from a computer, any authorized license agent location, or any MassWildlife office to try to win their antlerless deer permit in the zone for which they previously applied.

Enter your last name and Customer ID number. A page with your personal information will appear. Click on the blue "Enter Sales" button at the bottom right of your screen. Click on "Hunting Permits and Stamps" in the menu at the left side of your screen.

Click on "Antlerless Deer permit" and you will see the zone for which you originally applied. Click on the "add" button next to your zone and you will instantly receive a message that informs you if you have won your permit or not. Winning permits will be placed in your shopping cart where you can pay the $5 permit fee immediately and print the permit, or leave the winning permit in the shopping cart where it will remain until payment is made or until the permit expires at the end of 2013.


The East Mountain Sportsman's Club in Williamstown will hold a Basic Hunting Education Course on Monday, Sept. 9 from 6-9 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 14 from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; and Sunday, Sept. 15 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Students must attend all sessions as part of the requirement for passing the course. To enroll, call (978) 772-0693.


The Onota Fishing Club will hold its 26th annual crappie derby from 6 a.m.-noon next Sunday on Onota Lake. Entry fee is $25 per person with two-person teams. Prizes will be awarded for most crappies per team, heaviest crappie and most pan fish by weight.

All fish must be at least 8 inches and weighed in by 1 p.m. at Port Smitt's Lakeway Restaurant on Pecks Road. There will be an all-you-can-eat venison and fish fry to follow, and a $10 fee for non-participants. Sign up at Port Smitt's or call Chris Porter at (413) 496-0105.


Brad Klose from Dalton has designed and patented a fishing lure which he calls the Turbo Weedless Spinner. He claims that his inspiration and research ground is Cheshire Reservoir middle lake, an extremely difficult place for anglers due to the dense weed cover. The lure is best fished from a kayak or canoe where one can enjoy the challenge that this lake has to offer, without clogging up your motor with weeds.

Does it work? He claims it does, and that it has exceeded all of his expectations. He will be available most evenings at the lake to give hands on demonstrations to anglers who want to give the lure a "spin." No charge for the lure, but anglers will need to bring their own spinning rod, ball bearing swivel, tungsten bullet weight and a kayak or canoe to really experience the ability of this lure.

He wants to keep it made in the United States and manufactured in the Berkshires, but the most challenging obstacle so far has been raising enough funds to bring the lure to market. He has started a Kickstarter campaign ( Kickstarter is an American-based private for-profit company that provides tools to raise funds for creative projects via crowd funding through its website.

To reach Gene Chague:,
or (413) 637-1818.


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